Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A different kind of human-powered transport

Moving from a big city where pretty much anything I can possibly dream up is available in a short distance, to a rural island with pretty much four shops: a hardware store, a general store, a bookstore and a craft store, has proved to be somewhat of a challenge. Not that I'm a consumerist, and I also like being free of the constant commercialism of a city. I just like to know if I think it, I can get it. Although my dream is to become self-sufficient for food, since we aren't there yet having just moved in (unless my diet were to solely consist of blackberries), this involves usually going to town once a week for groceries. A 10-minute ferry crossing and then a 50 km round trip ride.

One of the simple pleasures I miss having ready access to is beer in glass bottles. The general store has a limited selection of choices, all in cans. While bottles have the ability for reuse rather than recycle, it still probably comes up earth friendlier on the cans since they are lighter for transport. We can get bottles at the ferry terminal store on the other side, but by the time we return from a long ride with everything under the sun laden on our bicycles, if we even have time to hit the store before racing onto the ferry we pedalled so hard to make (avoiding another 1-1.5 hour wait depending on time of day), the last thing we want is heavy bottles to lug up the 15% hill on the island side.

But wait, there must be a better way! We recently bought a tandem kayak for recreation. Hmm this could also prove useful for getting from A to B! Just like sometimes it takes a lightbulb to go off in people's head that a bicycle can be used for transportation rather than just a toy.

Setting off from the front yard

The waters of Baynes Sound are pretty calm for beginners like us, so even though my instinct is to hug the shore, a crossing to Vancouver Island is pretty easy. The only question marks are being sure to not interfere with the ferry, and where to park when we get to the store. Turns out there was nothing to worry about, just a bit of wake from the ferry where the spray skirt may have come in handy. Actually I think more of my getting wet was splashing myself while paddling. Refreshing on a warm day!

We didn't time it, but it probably took about 20 minutes each direction. Very time efficient considering the time to get to the ferry, wait for it, and load. I have done an out and back on the same ferry before, to buy fresh fish from the seafood store there, so the kayak will also be handy to save ferry fare to buy fish (actually fishing for it myself might throw me over from pescetarian to pure vegetarian land).

Slipstream by Phillips Beer - an apropos choice, no? Almost, but not quite within 100 miles, but at least originating from Vancouver Island.

Actually technically this was not our first kayak for transport trip. We paddled to a nearby social event, Mystery Beach Happy Hour, a couple weeks ago. Although it would probably have been easier to walk, it was that close. We ended up parking the kayak on the beach just a little too close, considering the tide was coming in. While sitting at a picnic table chatting somebody remarked on a red kayak getting away! Fortunately it was not getting away too quickly, but some swimming was involved.

Not sure where the next water destination will be! My arms will need to work up some more strength first. Too bad there is not a good place to secure a kayak, and to secure some bikes for storage on the other side. That way we could really go multimodal.

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